Restoration of the Shrines

Date: 11/13/2012 at 10:52
From: Anonymous
To : Everyone
Subj: Restoration of the Shrines

As dawn broke in the early days of Sarapin, the voice of Han-Tolneth,
long absent to grieve the loss of the white dragon Ashaxei, thundered
across the lands with incomprehensible rage. The tumult drew both the
compassionate and the curious to the lake within the Mhojave Desert,
where the grieving Dragonmaster stood gazing into the waters above
Ashaxei's Mirror.

"Over and over it plays. In my head, and in the chamber below," he
lamented, speaking of the tragic death of the white dragon. "Tell me
there has been retribution," he pleaded with the gathering crowd. "Tell
me someone has paid!"

Dortheron Covraci lowered his eyes. Months earlier he had made attempts
to console Han-Tolneth in his grief, but there was little news to
gladden him today. "I'm sorry..." he started, and trailed off as others
shook their heads.

"I cannot sit and grieve any more," Han-Tolneth said angrily. "What has
been happening? Tell me."

"Five divine have been slain," began Mosr Gothfraidh-Sar'vet.

"And even more injured," added Kayeil Inamora-Vorondil.

Han-Tolneth glared about himself. "Divine slain?" he asked. "I thought I
dreamt that. It is true instead?"

"It is."

"Bah!" Han-Tolneth retorted disgustedly. "At whose hand has this been

"Those disgusting worms and their despicable God have done away with
more than we thought possible," spat Penwize Baker.

Han-Tolneth raised an eyebrow questioningly.

"Bal'met," added Traelor Shu'in-Crescent in a tired, wheezing voice.

"You mean they succeeded in raising that abomination?" cried Han-Tolneth
incredulously. Traelor frowned and nodded.

"With Mhaldor's assistance," added Dortheron. As his companions began to
speak of the holy shrines across the land that were slowly being
corrupted by the workings of Mhaldor, the Dragonmaster's face grew dark.

"The shrines of Bal'met cannot be destroyed, yet his minions have been
able to corrupt those of the other gods?" he repeated, the question more
a statement of fact. Heads nodded around him.

"We don't know how they are corrupting the shrines," spoke Enyd, an
Archon of Ashtan. "Do you think that when they hold embers they access
some new ability of corruption?"

Han-Tolneth considered the possibility, for it was true that many had
reported powerful new abilities when they came into possession of the
primal embers.

"I cannot believe that the embers would cause the corruption of any
shrine," he said finally. "They are, in a way, a very piece of the Fire
Behind the Flame. A part of the dragon soul. A power of creation, and of

"I tried to use an ember to sanctify the shrines," asserted Enyd
helpfully, then sighed. "To no avail."

Han-Tolneth creased his brow in a frown, intrigued by Enyd's suggestion,
his mind working furiously for some solution.

"Do any of these shrines stand nearby? The corrupted ones?" he asked. A
murmur of assent rumbled through the group. "I would like to see them
for myself."

"There are many affected in the Siroccians," said Kayeil.

"Go to the Shrine of Ascension," spoke the Lupine Elianon in a quiet but
clear voice.

Han-Tolneth blinked. "The shrine of... No!"

Penwize nodded grimly. "That is where it took place," he spoke. "The
birthplace of Bal'met."

Rage threatened to boil over within Han-Tolneth, and he struggled to
form words. "Let us go."

~ ~ ~

Han-Tolneth glowered at the blasted remains of the Shrine of Ascension,
looking with pure disgust on the metallic formation that now stood atop
the mountain within the Siroccian range.

"This was one of the first they corrupted," said Elianon.

Dortheron nodded. "This is where Bal'met rose."

Han-Tolneth reached out a hand, stopping inches from the shrine as he
pulled away with a muttered curse.

"This is the most foul of corruption," he scowled. "Worse than any I
have encountered in... centuries."

"Who holds these embers?" he demanded. Many spoke up, first among them
young Ysebelle Bravedale from Shallam. Han-Tolneth nodded, and motioned
for her to stand beside him.

"Hold out the fire, like so," he instructed, reaching out toward the
shrine with one hand. "You must be careful."

Obediently holding forth the ember, Ysebelle took the glowing ember and
pressed it against the surface of the befouled shrine.

"Pray to the gods that this succeeds..." murmured Han-Tolneth.

As Ysebelle held still, the ember began to glow brightly, suffusing the
mountaintop with a flash of light as it cleansed every spot of dark
blight from the holy altar. Stepping back, she gasped in wonder. Before
them now stood a humble shrine to Maya, the Great Mother, formed from
smooth, dove-grey marble.

A palpable sense of relief washed over the group as hope was quickly
rekindled. Han-Tolneth's mighty shoulders sagged, and he stepped back to
allow Ysebelle to demonstrate to others how to draw upon the embers'
cleansing power. Excitedly the group began to disperse, seeking the
shrines of their patrons, but not before one determined individual
overheard their conversation.

From a safe distance at the base of the mountain, Ruth Yuridja-Keyte,
Daemonic Hand of the Ebon Fist and Viceroy of Mhaldor, boldly yelled,
"Thank you for the information, Sapients!" Most dismissed the mocking
gratitude as little more than a show of bravado, but days later, none
could ignore the battle that raged on between those who would corrupt
and those who would restore the shrines of the Pantheon.

Penned by My hand on the 13th of Sarapin, in the year 611 AF.